The main reason to visit Sihanoukville is its beaches. While the ones in town seem pleasant enough, there’s apparently some amazing beaches on nearby islands. A few people from the tour went on a boat trip to visit these beaches for sunbathing, snorkelling and swimming. I’m not a huge fan of such activities, at least not in the sea, so gave it a miss. In hindsight that was probably a good call. Judging by how sunburned people looked on their return, a day on a boat may have almost seen me and my pasty complexion off!
Instead I spent a leisurely day around Sihanoukville. I did have a little walk along the sand and even a paddle in the warm water. There are miles of beaches around and today they seemed very much uncrowded.
I love Asian food, although after three months of constant rice and curry dishes it was nice to try something different. Today I found somewhere serving a pasty with baked beans. This dish cost substantially more than it would at the Pound Bakery but it tasted delicious! People often ask what food I miss from back home and to be honest it’s very little. Western food is widely available almost everywhere nowadays. Decent bread can sometimes be tricky to find though. In most places it is usually either too sweet or has a weird texture. However in the French-influenced societies of Laos and Cambodia the fresh baguettes have been excellent.
There are a lot of bakeries/coffee shops around South-East Asia, again maybe as a result of the bygone French colonial era. A lot of them are fairly swanky and likely out of the affordability of most locals in what is ostensibly a poor country. Paying $3 for a latte in a place where the average daily wage is something like $7 raises a bit of an ethical dilemma. This afternoon on a Sihanoukville backstreet I found a lovely little cafe, The Starfish Project. Here profits are donated in order to aid the needy and disabled, unfortunately whom there are plenty of in Cambodia.
On a slightly random note it’s been slightly surprising to see how snooker has a bit of a following in Cambodia. On the bike ride around Kampong Cham I noticed a full-size table in the village. In Phnom Penh I also spotted a couple of snooker clubs and today I saw some locals indulging in a few frames. The current World Championship has also been screened in a few bars.
When the frazzled people returned from the boat trip we went out for some food in an interesting establishment. It served as a hostel, restaurant, bar, travel agency and bookshop. That’s diversification for you! The food was actually nice and the book shop excellent, with a great range of literature on display. As with some other countries in the region, the issue of copyright may not be taken especially seriously in Cambodia. A fair few of the titles appeared to be straight off a photocopier!